PUERTO PRINCESA CITY: Thirteen of the 46 mayoral candidates for the May 8 recall election in this city filed on Tuesday their withdrawal before the city’s Commission on Election (Comelec) office, saying they did not know they were running for mayor.
All of them claimed they were deceived by some individuals from a supposed pro-poor organization to sign documents giving them benefits.
Mary Grace Fontanilla, acting as the group’s spokesperson, recounted that a certain Luan approached some of them on April 21 and gave them a form, telling them to go the next day to the City Coliseum. At the City Coliseum the next day, or April 22, they were given certificates of residence and were told to sign a filled up form with documentary stamp. The papers were then filed at the City Comelec office.
Fontanilla said they were even told to change their family names should their surnames start with letters A and B, forcing some of them to use their maiden names or, in some cases, the maiden names of their husbands.
Afterwards, they were told to wait in a room where they were idled for two hours. Then they queued and were given P500 each. “Pamasahe daw po namin pauwi [That was for our fares to go home],” Fontanilla added.
After three days, they were surprised to hear over local radio that they can be jailed because of the forms they filed at the Comelec, and even more surprised to learn they will be running for mayor in the recall election.
All being residents of Barangay Bancao-bancao, they sought the help of their barangay chairman.
“Gusto po naming iatras ang aming kandidatura dahil wala naman po kaming intensyon lumaban bilang mayor at wala naman po kaming kakayahang lumaban bilang mayor [We wanted to withdraw our candidacies because we do not have any intention or the resources to run for mayor of the city],” Fontanilla stated firmly.
The 13 mayoralty candidates who withdrew their candidacies included 19-year old Rasha Datu Ortiz, 21-year old Kimberly Pangilinan Friginal, and 22-year old Cristalyn Madamay Sumalinog, all of whom, Fontanilla said, were not advised by the Comelec that they were underaged to run for mayor.
Meanwhile, another 17 of the 46 candidates were also reportedly disqualified because they are not yet registered voters of the city.